Dave Hanlon brought his power jazz trio to the 443 Social Club & Lounge on Friday, December 3rd with Ron France on bass and Ed Vivenzio on keys in tow. The trio delivered a Blue Note style-esque performance of their take on classic funk jazz compositions. Twenty seven pieces were on the set list to be exact. All performed with the same on the spot fervor that all good jazz is created in.
The group put their spin on greats by Thelonius Monk, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan and a rock block of Joe Sample cuts. The trio did a classic two set & encore performance for the candle lit table crowd at 443. Without a doubt the 443 is Syracuse’s most intimate room for those looking to really listen to the notes coming off the bandstand. Dave Hanlon shared the 2005 and 2015 SAMMY awards with Phish drummer and Syracuse native Jon Fishman.
Fishman was inducted as a lifetime achievement award recipient in 2015 and he naturally introduced Dave Hanlon into the Hall of Fame at The Dinosaur BBQ & Eastwood’s Palace Theater in 2005. A 13 year old Fishman once took lessons from Hanlon. Jon brought the sheet music Hanlon gave him at their first lesson to the induction ceremony. “Can you believe that? I flipped out.” Dave Hanlon still has various projects he dabbles with as we approach the end of this year. He took some time to talk with NYS music at Syracuse’s Blue Note style room, the 443, for a chat.
Matthew Romano: Steve Gadd spoke of the Ridgecrest Inn in Rochester where he could watch legendary drummers perform up close. With the same as my proximity to you on the bandstand at 443 tonight. What were some memories of live music you attended in New York State that you can remember as an influence that started to instill a groove in you?
Dave Hanlon: Mahavishnu Orchestra & Ravi Shankar at Syracuse University quad. Billy Cobham on drums absolutely blew me away in 1972. Wait not the quad… it was SkyTop field on SU Campus.
MR: What about on the gigging side and educationally?
DH: My first kit was from Stagnitta music and I used a trash can for the snare drum. I took a couple lessons at Stagnitta music but it was at Auburn Community College with Dick Howard were I took my first lessons. From there I went to Detroit to finish college and started playing out in bands. Not studying music, just gigging. Back to Syracuse I was part of a big regional band called DOVE. It was a great rock and roll experience. After that ended I went to New York City to study at the percussion center with Norman Grossman. There I met Jim Chapin for a few lessons. Chapin is notable for his independence jazz drumming book. So that combination was a huge influence. I’d take the train to New York for class during the day and then to Buddy Rich’s club at night. I’d sit and watch him play with his six piece band. Next I went to Los Angeles. It was big as I did a clinic with Louie Bellson who originated the double bass drums. At 28, I did a show at the Los Angeles Percussion school as a guest, not a student. I performed with him in front of 250 other drummers. It was the highest pressure situation I’ve ever found myself in but a dream come true.
When I came back to Syracuse I formed my first solo funky five piece jazz band. In 1976 we got a 13 month residency at the “Spirit of 35” on Carrier Circle where Joeys is now. It helped really give us time to hone our skills balls out ya know? All instrumental. We even had Edgar Winter come sit and play a whole set with us after a show he had in Syracuse. The promoters brought him to hear us. It was well before cell phones and the word still got out so it went to the standing room only in 15 minutes. It was definitely the most memorable moment there.
In 1977 I joined the band CRAC and their original album All For You was re released in 2020 by King Underground Record Company out of England on Vinyl. From there I recorded with Duke Jupiter out of Rochester on two of their albums on Mercury Records. Duke Jupiter made its way in to Rochester music hall of fame in 2014. In the 1980’s I formed the first cookbook band which was all instrumental that had a year long residency at the Lost Horizon. Ava Andrews joined me on vocals for the next version of the cook book and she remained an original member with me for 34 years. Funky Jazz Band formed in 2016 as fresh five instrumental. The trio out of it works well for a lot of other style rooms. Diana Jacobs Band out of Auburn I collaborated with in 2018 that has a full horn section, we just released “Love Each Other, Love Our World” the day after Thanksgiving this year. The CD just made its way to Soundgarden with streaming options available soon.
MR: What great studio sessions have you recorded on?
DH: I love being a part of Studio Jams with producer Tom Emmi in Philadelphia. The concept is to get different musicians together completely unprepared, roll the tape and see what they come up with. We might pick a song from another artist and put our own stamp on it. It’s educational and entertaining. I’ve done 15 of them. They do it all over the country. I was able to do Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man at Sub Cat Studios in Syracuse that got over 2 million views and counting. Everyone donates their time to simply give back to the music. It’s a really beautiful thing. He arranged a series for fallen artists titled “Lest We Forget” as well so that their musical groove can live on.
MR: What is your angle over time on dealing with the composition & improvisation world that we dabble in daily. Those moments that can’t be recreated concept ya know?
DH: The creative process is key especially for jazz musicians who are supposed to be free to create. The preparations for studio jams are like night and day. You just go for it and you don’t even know it’s coming. You’re in the moment. But Lest we forget that also takes a lot of preparation because you got to know that tune the best you can on behalf of that fallen artist. Always different, you know what I mean?
DH: The trio and five piece funky jazz band are also examples. There’s the head, bridge and the solo section of the tune. For the most part for consistency you want to stay in the groove for the song but when solo times open up your creative freedom kicks in. Staying in the context of the song can help you work on your creativity. One of things drummers have at their command, I’f they have that command… is dynamics. We don’t have that many notes to deal with. Dynamics give us a much greater vocabulary. My approach to music is to become the best as I can be in my sense of dynamics within the context of music and the song. It creates tremendous tension and release. When you go to a concert there’s dynamics that people don’t realize they respond to.
When there’s a solo section and the whole band just brings it down from this really loud piece to almost silence. Whats the response? The audience loves it. The effect musically is very powerfulDave Hanlon
MR: It is powerful. That Jon Fishman Radio City show I sent you from October has a moment like that during “In Rounds”. You’ve got this five piece playing a song for the first time in their third ever live set in Rockefeller. Everyone’s bouncing off ideas. Ya know? 27 minutes into it the funky groove turns to air on Radio City’s great proscenium arch, before falling back to bring it home.
DH: Yea that was a beautiful concert. That’s the beauty of when musicians are listening really to each other and not themselves. That won’t happen otherwise. I wasn’t aware of that percussionist. He was excellent. That was my first time seeing Jon perform with a percussionist and they played off each other remarkably well.
MR: Steve Gadd played with Cyro Baptista on Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints and was unfamiliar with Phish. I’ve seen Jon perform live with percussionist Gionavvi Hidalgo for a cover of Little Feats Waiting for Columbus album on Halloween in Atlantic City. He has a great live version of Surrender to Air from the Academy in New York City with Oteil Burbridge and Sun Ra Orkestra
DH: It was great to be able to reunite with him at Studio jams of all places after 37 years in August of 2015. We spent the afternoon while he had time in between shows in Philadelphia. We just did five songs off the cuff with three other guys. Its Your Thing (Isley Brothers), Hottentot (MMW with Scofield), Freeway Jam (Jeff Beck), Ode to Billy Joe (Bobby Gentry) and Cantaloupe Woman (Grant Green). Yea we had those lessons but this was our first time playing together. It was just like being with an old friend. It was really cool. Jon’s a down home guy, there’s no air to him. He’s just a cat that wants to play. He also happens to be in one of the most popular bands in the world.
Dave Hanlon Trio (Ron France-bass & Ed Vivenzio- keys) The 443 Social Club and Lounge, December 3 2021
Set 1: Cold Duck (Eddie Harris & Les McCann), Ruby (Ray Charles), Chain Reaction (Diana Ross), Fe Fi Fo (Wayne Shorter), 7 Steps/ Song Father ( Miles Davis), Carmel (Joe Sample), Randy Uptown, Round Midnite (Thelonius Monk), Sermonized (Joe Sample), Blue Bossa (Joe Henderson), Human Nature (Micheal Jackson), A Child is Born (Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Orchestra), Spain (Chick Corea)
Set 2: Maputo (Bob James & David Sanborn), Ricky Don’t Lose that Number (Steely Dan), Hippies on the corner (Joe Sample), Bottswanna Bossa (David Benoit), Aja (Steely Dan with Steve Gadd), Watermelon Man (Herbie Hancock), Christmastime is here (Vince Guaraldi), Spellbound (Joe Sample), Girl From Ipanema (Stan Getz and Joeao GIlberto), Jellybeans & Chocolate (David Benoit), Pointciena (Ahmad Jamal), If you want me to stay (Sly Stone), Sudden Samba (Neil Larsen)
Encore: Freedom @ Midnite (David Benoit)